Canela (Eastern Timbira), I: An Ethnographic Introduction.
By William H.Crocker
Smithsonian Contributions to Anthropology,
Number 33, 487 pages, 11 tables, 51 figures, 78 plates, 1990.
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1 Steven Schecter, cinematographer, under the direction of myself and Dr. E. Richard Sorenson, Director of the Smithsonian’s National Human Studies Film Center, filmed the Canela in the “summers” of 1975 and 1979 and accumulated 120,000 feet of synchronous sound film record concentrating on nonverbal behavior. The focus of the footage is on socialization in general and on the Pepyê festival in particular.
2 The “l” that is usually found in this term caboclos (Wagley, 1953:140) is not used in this part of Brazil.
3 The six salaried Canela Indian service employees were the older Pù?tô, the older Kaapêltùk, the older Krôôtô, Chief Kaarà?khre, the younger Tààmi, and A?prol (the son-in-law of the older Kaapêltùk). These Canela Indian service employees were paid the same amount as the Brazilian Indian service employees, who lived and worked in Barra do Corda. Thus, the Canela received several times more money than a backlander could possibly earn through working in the field of another backlander for pay [I.F.2.b].
4 The plus or minus ranges are my estimates of maximum possible errors on censuses taken by me. To say that census taking among the Canela and Apanyekra is difficult is an understatement. Individuals can be traveling in cities, absent in their farms on their assigned census day, or present twice in different houses, their consanguineal and affinal ones. You almost have to see them and know them personally to count them correctly. Relatives give misleading statements to cover absences, and they make erroneous reports through carelessness. The best aid in such census taking is the previous census taken by oneself. Practice showed my count improved with each new census. However, little time was spent on the final 1979 census. My most accurate census for Escalvado was taken in 1975. Such tribal censuses are likely to be lower in number than the actual population.
5 Reliable older research assistants say they have no memory of the term Capiekrans and that kap of Kap-yê-?khrã (Capiekran) means nothing, whereas yê and ?khrã are common terms. Yê is the plural or the honorific for “you” or “him.” Khrã means “head” or a ball of something. Kap could be varied as khop (war club) or khep (to cut), and several other possibilities exist, but nothing satisfactory or interesting resulted from this line of research.
6 When I first arrived in 1957, youths invited me to log race with them in the Pepyê initiation practice situation by a swimming hole, but I showed them the scar near the base of my spine (the result of back surgery), which gave me an acceptable excuse for not participating in this exciting sport. Jack Popjes, the SIL linguistic missionary, frequently raced with them, however, carrying the heaviest logs.
7 Research assistants offered various expressions when I asked them for the opposite of amyi-?khin nã in their language. This work was done when we were studying polarities (opposition and complementarity) in 1979. It is important for ethnographic purposes to know whether or not a certain act is part of a particular festival being observed. In order to make accurate and complete descriptions and analyses, it is necessary to know the various parts of a festival. When the same festival is seen again years later, the part of the performance that was not properly part of the festival is not likely to appear in the same place.
8 The traditional position of the axis in the plaza that lies between these two facing moieties is from north to south in the Fish festival and from east to west in the Khêêtúwayê festival. These axes vary somewhat from village to village from their traditional positions because of the slopes of the plazas.
9 Two little boys (approximately 3 to 6 years of age) are assigned to most social groups, but their membership can go unnoticed because they appear and perform with their group so seldom, in some cases only once. In the initiation festivals the boys are more evident. They are members of the small elite group that eats by itself and that consists of the commandants, file leaders, girl associates, messenger boys [IV.A.3.c.(1).(c)], and these “little boys” (mẽ khra-re: pl. child-dim.).
10 In 1986, communications indicated that the younger Kaapêltùk was, in effect, the chief. His formal position was the head of the Pró-khãmmã, but he also controlled the unpopular young chief, the youngest Mĩĩkhrô a “sister’s” son, who if it were not for Kaapêl’s intervention, would have been deposed. In mid-1987, I learned that the younger Kaapêltùk was currently first chief, and in mid-1988 he was deposed.
11 The Harvard-Central Brazil scholars associated with Professor David Maybury-Lewis use the expression, “relationship system” to include other terminological systems than just the consanguineal and affinal ones.
12 During the five months between two of my visits (December 1974 and May 1975) to the Apanyekra in their new village site in the Porquinhos area, the house at the lowest point in the village had to be abandoned because the winter rains had demolished it. In a village recently cut out of the cerrado bush no one knows just where the waters are going to find a new channel.
13 Joking relationships exist between (1) Informal Friends, (2) a woman and her “brother’s” son (excluding name-set and advisory relationships), (3) a man and his “sister’s” daughter (excluding name-set and advisory relationships) [II.D.1.b.(2),(3)], and (4) a woman and certain of her classificatory husbands: the ones with whom she is not having nor has had a long term affair [III.E.8.b].
14 Sixty-nine Canela couples, in the 1970 marriage study of the life history of 204 individuals, believed themselves to have been consanguineally “nonrelated” before marriage, whereas 30 considered themselves to have been related. I found one couple to be related as first cousins; two couples as first cousins once removed; two couples as second cousins; five couples as second cousins or further (because of their genealogical uncertainty); one couple as third cousins; six couples as third cousins or further; two couples as fourth cousins or further; four couples knew they had been related before marriage but could not figure out how; and one couple were grandchildren of amyi-pùtàl “siblings” (i.e., distant cross-sex siblingship strengthened by the naming of one of each other’s same-sex children [III.E.4.a]). Four couples had married each other as siblings through “contributing-father” relationships, one pair were step-relatives, and another were son and granddaughter of siblings by adoption. These latter six cases are most likely all nonrelatives consanguineally, although they reckon themselves as kin.
From another point of view, namely, what the couples believed they had called each other before marriage (two had forgotten) rather than what I could discover their genealogical relationships to be: 13 had addressed each other as “B” and “Z”; 9 as “GF” and “GD” (includes &MB and %ZD); 2 as “GM” and “GS” (includes %FZ and &BS); 2 as “F” and “D”; and 2 as “M” and “S.” (This note is from W. Crocker, 1984a:87.)
15 My research assistants could not and did not want to fit the Festival of Masks, as a foreign festival, into their dualistic arrangement, pairing it with other festivals in an oppositional or a complementary manner. They said it was not a possession of the Mõltumre (Mõl-tum-re: going-along-slowly old-experienced-ones dim.: the little old experienced moving ones), their ancient tribe from which the other great festivals came [III.C.7.a.(1)].
16 The 1960 Masks’ camping site hut was close to the 1935 hut of Nimuendajú’s (1946:206, fig. 16) time, although the direction from the huts to the villages was opposite: Ponto (1960) to the south and Baixão Prêto (1935) to the north (Map 3).
17 “Begging” is in quotes because in English the word “begging” has bad connotations, but a?-nã ?wè ([it-generalizer]-on ask: ask for it) does not have bad connotations in Canela; at least, it did not traditionally. Now, with increasing influence from outsiders, the Canela have become ashamed to “beg” (i.e., to ask for things without giving anything in return), but the Apanyekra are still very aggressive “beggars,” having been less influenced by outsiders since 1938 [III.B.1.f.(4)].
18 The term Ayrẽn, has an appropriate meaning. The a is a generalizer and the verb rẽ means to throw down, as some men might throw down women before having sexual relations with them. The n is the verb’s past tense ending, or the verb’s alternative ending when other words follow directly [III.B.1.1.(1)].
19 A native of the Parnaíba river area below Terezina told me that local Brazilians of that area played this same game there when he was a child, using shuttlecocks of corn husk. Could the Canela have had contact with such people if they had lived farther east and in such a riverbank environment? Júlio Melatti (personal communication) points out that the Krahó have the same ceremony.
20 This is not the place to debate the various ramifications of the Whorf-Sapir hypothesis. I am assuming both that forms of thought structure how the world is perceived culturally and that certain physical aspects of the world structure, to some extent, cultural forms of thought. Moreover, I accept that human biological structures and physiology affect forms of thought and perception.
21 Whether fixed inanimate triads are triads or complex dyads may be questioned. Research assistants led me to believe they are triads; that is, the two elements of a triad which are in complementarity with each other do not necessarily merge and become one element when held in opposition to the third element, forming a dyad. The point in favor of triads is supported by the arrangement of kinship terms. Seen as terms rather than behavior, there are basically two parental terms and just one term for children and two grandparental terms and just one for grandchildren (from address, not reference) (Figure 20). For affines, there are two terms (though one is a variation of the other) for those born in a consanguineal family and one term for those married into the same family (reference) (Figure 28). Whether animate triads are basically complex dyads may also be questioned. Research assistants presented them as triads but I should look for further evidence. In the main phase of the Masks’ festival, the Masks and the Jaguars who are in complementarity never join each other to form one merged group, but in the Closing Wè?tè festival (a continuation of the Masks’ festival) the Masks and Jaguars carry the Kô?khre log together, intermingled, helping each other [IV.A.3.e.(3)], suggesting the complex dyad. In the Pepkahàk festival, the Pepkahàk troop’s internment separates them from the Falcons, so there is no merging of the two groups over the general course of the festival. However, in the big race (the Krówa-ti) of the terminal phase of the festival, the Pepkahàk mix and merge with the Falcons to race against the Ducks. This suggests that these groups generally act independently (favoring triads), but merge just at the end of the celebration (favoring complex dyads). Thus, the question cannot be definitively answered now. When the materials of the festival system are studied carefully for a later publication, this question will be raised again. Until then, I prefer the triadic solution because my research assistants led me to recognize the relationships to exist in this way. (I thank Kenneth Kensinger for calling the possibility of complex dyads to my attention.)
22 The older Kaapêltùk accidentally killed Pooka?twè, a brother of Te?hôk, with a shotgun in the woods near Baixão dos Peixes in the mid-1960s. They were hunting together and both were quite drunk. The Indian service investigated the matter and declared it an accident, as I believe it was. Te?hôk’s kin made no claim against the older Kaapêltùk’s, so the matter was dropped. Rumors persisted, nevertheless, so that the older Kaapêltùk lost considerable face and confidence among certain extended families.
23 A potential conflict could occur between the folk Catholic leadership of the young Chief Kaapêltùk and the Protestant influence of the missionary-linguist, Jack Popjes (SIL). However, Kaapêltùk was Jack’s special, most relied upon, final checker for translated New Testament texts during the first years, and Kaapêltùk’s oldest and principal son-in-law, Yaako, has been Jack’s main workhorse translator into the mid-1980s and is probably his first and foremost convert. The two potentially opposing camps are thus united by being in the same family, their wives being mother and eldest daughter. Moreover, Jack concentrates on the general aspects of Christianity and its spirit rather than on the specifically northern Brazilian Protestant ones. Thus, the differences with backland folk Catholicism are not as stark as might be thought, though still significant. Jack’s orientation to agricultural work, fair market prices, and financial honesty is close to Kaapêltùk’s personal inclinations and thereby facilitates his leadership, especially in contrast to the leadership of the tribe in the 1960s and 1970s.
24 In about 1980, the Indian service reemployed the younger Kaapêltùk. He had been striving to regain this employment since 1951. He had lost it during his final Pepyê festival internment because the post agent would not excuse his absences for the festival. Disregarding the agent’s refusal, Kaapêltùk remained in his terminal Pepyê festival internment cell, as commandant of his graduating age-set, instead of reporting for duty at the Indian service post. Kaapêl had to rely on lesser and sporadic earnings from me since 1958, both as an occasional research assistant and as a regular diary manuscript writer and tape speaker [I.F.1,G.4].
25 Careful translation of this collection of myths would have taken years, considering the plethora of materials recorded on tape, and such an amount of fieldwork time spent just on myths could not be justified. These materials are at least the younger Kaapêltùk’s myths if not the old narrator’s (W. Crocker, 1984b:202), but the younger Kaapêltùk was trained to follow the old narrator closely, and I could tell if he was diverging and often told him so. Someday these stories should be translated exactly. It is notable that Jack Popjes of the Summer Institute of Linguistics refuses to translate myths without the help of trained research assistants, while many ethnologists translate their taped myths in their home offices.
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